So today my son brings home his cap and gown for graduation. Of course I’m all excited about it, laying it on the island and smoothing my hands over the sealed plastic it’s folded in — as if I’m offering up a gift to the gods or something.
“Let’s take it out and hang it up so we can get the wrinkles out,” I suggest to someone who wasn’t really listening to me.
I didn’t want to break the seal on the package because on it was printed his name and high school along with the word “GRADUATE” — yes, all in caps. So I’m going through this near ritual of carefully opening the package, half expecting heavenly music to start playing, when my son announces, “I’m gonna go bring in the cans now.” Yeah, bringing the heavenly interlude to a screeching halt. So he escaped to take the trash cans into the garage while I finished my ceremonial unwrapping of his cap and gown.
I hung the black gown on a hanger and draped his school medallion on its gold ribbon. Then I grabbed the cap. I straightened the tassel, turned it upside down to see a message printed on cardboard inside the cap. “Congratulations on your graduation, from everyone at Jostens! Succeeding in education truly makes all the hard work and extra effort worthwhile. Hats off to you, from Jostens, on an outstanding accomplishment.”
I’m not embarrassed to say I was reduced to tears upon reading this cheesy commercial message inserted into the countless graduation caps they produce. These days it doesn’t take much. I’m an emotional rollercoaster!
My dear Anna,
I remember when I was asked to the senior prom. It was back in 1975. I was a high school sophomore and it was Mrs. Whitehead who asked me. She was the senior class adviser.
She asked if I’d go with John, a personable, charming, smart senior with a good sense of humor. See, John was a student who had Cerebral Palsy. Thinking back, I don’t know if I really understood why she was asking me, of all people, but I happily agreed to be his prom date. Reflecting back, I’m so thankful I made the right choice; I just keep thinking I could have done a better job that night and I wish I had.
Fast-forward 40 years. Now it’s me with a son who is personable, charming, smart and entertaining — just like Johnny. But my son has high-functioning autism. Not even as visible as John’s challenges, but present, nonetheless.
Thank goodness for karma. And thank goodness for you, Anna. You stepped into our lives doing something like I had done some four decades earlier, and made prom night possible for my son. Not just possible, but truly memorable.
Anna, I love your good heart. Your kind, giving soul. I know you will make a big difference in this world because you already have. You, my dear, are special.
With all my love,
Your date’s mom
PS To all you families touched by autism, I hope you find your Anna. And to all you Annas out there, you are loved.
A HEART-TO-HEART WITH MOM
This Thursday, May 14. There are still some spots available.
Click here to register!
Come and share, learn, connect, laugh and most importantly, find out that you’re not alone.
Click here to read my interview with John Kelly from College Living Experience (CLE).